An imaginative, haunting and beautifully written first novel, about an unusual friendship, from a brilliant new writer
It is five days since Marnie’s father disappeared. This is worrying, but not unlikely. A famous writer, he is also schizophrenic. Marnie remembers his mania, his affection; and how quickly it could turn to anger. She can’t sleep, and has taken time off work, ostensibly to search for him. But she is struggling.
Marnie’s best friend Shiulie tries to cheer her up, but she has her own problems. Her younger sister Jess moves in, but sits on the sofa lost in the TV. This is also worrying, but Marnie will do her best. What she needs most is some good advice; someone to listen, to understand, to scare away the demons.
In the streets of the town, missing posters bloom on the lamp posts. The neighbourhood cats have disappeared; Mr Knuckles, the stray she has adopted, vanished with them. Have they been kidnapped? Or has something scared them away?
What is most worrying is the sudden presence Marnie senses behind her, at her side, in the corner of her sight; a hot breath on her cheek, a wisp of mane. It is getting more noticeable daily, both reassuring and terrifying. Is she imagining things, or could it be something else - someone to help?
An utterly original and hugely imaginative debut, Advice for Strays is a novel about love, loss, family and a very unusual friendship. It marks the arrival of a stunning new voice in contemporary fiction.
“Her theme is vast... The world she depicts is complete, savage and real”
“An unusual and engaging novel”
“This debut is a mystifying, funny and perplexing exploration of what happens when your life goes off the rails - and how to find your way back. Surprising and touching...will leave your imagination soaring.”
“Justine Kilkerr tells Marnie's story with great emotional precision and subtlety, as she journeys through the no-man's-land between reality and dreams...a delightful and whimsical novel, a most promising debut.”
Thomas Tallon, Tablet